The Meaning and Origins of E=QxA

The concept of E=QxA stands for the following:

¬†“The Effectiveness of any Change is equal to the Quality of the change solution times the level of Acceptance by stakeholders.”

It is often associated with the field of organisational change management.

While it’s a well-known formula in this context, it does not have a single, specific origin or a single individual credited with its creation.

Instead, it has evolved over time as a heuristic or rule of thumb used by change management practitioners to emphasise the importance of both the technical quality of a proposed change and the level of acceptance or buy-in from the people affected by the change.

The Idea Behind E=QxA

The idea behind E=QxA is that for a change initiative to be effective, it’s not enough to have a high-quality change (i.e. a well-designed and well-thought-out change).

It also needs to be accepted and embraced by the individuals and teams impacted by the change.

The formula highlights that even a high-quality change can fail to produce the desired results if it lacks acceptance among the people who must implement or adapt to it.

Overall, the concept of E=QxA underscores the holistic nature of successful organisational change, where both the quality of the change itself and the degree to which it is accepted and adopted by the organisation’s members play critical roles in determining its success.

While its specific origin may be unclear, it remains a valuable guideline for change management professionals.

Acceptance May Not Be Enough

After decades of working in the space of organisational change, I have come to believe that in times of change, commitment is more relevant than acceptance. We can make a distinction between “commitment” and “acceptance” in the context of organisational change. Here are the key differences:

Acceptance:

Acceptance refers to the willingness of individuals or groups within an organisation to tolerate or go along with a proposed change.
It may not necessarily imply enthusiasm or active support for the change but rather a passive agreement or compliance.

Individuals who accept a change may not fully embrace it or be personally invested in its success.

Commitment:

Commitment goes beyond acceptance. It reflects a higher level of personal dedication and active engagement with the change initiative.

Committed individuals are not just willing to go along with the change; they actively support it, believe in its value, and work towards its success.
They are more likely to invest time and effort in making the change work, even in the face of challenges or resistance.

In summary, while acceptance implies a certain level of willingness to accommodate a change, commitment represents a deeper and more proactive level of support and engagement.

In many change management contexts, having a critical mass of committed individuals can be more advantageous than simply having passive acceptance, as committed individuals are more likely to drive the change forward and help ensure its success.

However, achieving commitment can be more challenging and may require additional efforts to engage and motivate individuals effectively.

The Emergence of E=QxC

Based on this, we can create a modified model based on E=QxC, where “C” represents Commitment.

This modified model emphasises the importance of commitment as a critical factor in achieving organisational change success. This newer model might be explained this way:

“E=QxC: The Effectiveness of any Organisational Change is equal to the Quality of the proposed change, multiplied by the level of Commitment by stakeholders.”

 Effectiveness (E):

This remains the ultimate goal of any organisational change initiative: achieving the desired results or outcomes.

Effectiveness takes into account the impact of the change on the organisation’s goals, performance, and overall success.

Quality (Q):

Quality represents the attributes of the change itself. It includes factors such as the clarity of the change vision, the soundness of the change strategy, and the alignment of the change with the organisation’s objectives.

High-quality changes are well-planned, well-executed, and designed to maximise positive outcomes.

Commitment (C):

Commitment is the level of personal dedication and active engagement of individuals and groups within the organisation towards the change.

Committed individuals not only accept the change but actively support and work towards its success. They are willing to invest time, effort, and resources to ensure the change’s effectiveness.

Commitment can be fostered through clear communication, involvement of stakeholders in the change process, addressing concerns, and demonstrating the benefits of the change.

In this model, Commitment (C) serves as a multiplier, meaning that even a high-quality change (Q) may not be fully effective (E) unless there is a sufficient level of commitment from those affected by the change.

Conversely, a high level of commitment can enhance the effectiveness of a change initiative, even if the quality of the change is initially less than ideal.

Conclusion

This model underscores the importance of actively cultivating commitment among employees and stakeholders during the change process. It acknowledges that achieving commitment can be a strategic driver for success in organisational change efforts, as committed individuals are more likely to contribute their energy and expertise towards making the change successful.

More Information

This article was written by George Lee Sye, author of PROCESS MASTERY WITH LEAN SIX SIGMA – the best lean six sigma text book in the world today.

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